Black Lives Matter
The School is committed to addressing equality, diversity and inclusion, and has a zero-tolerance stance to any form of racist or discriminatory behaviour.
As Head of School, I want to share with you the following message that has been written in collaboration with members of the School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee.
Race relations worldwide have been brought into sharp focus by the recent brutal killing of George Floyd in the USA. The harmful and toxic effects of discrimination are obviously not unique to the USA; at this time many of us will be reflecting on experiences of racism closer to home - be that personal experiences or those of our friends, family and loved ones, as well as those of colleagues, students, and others in our community. The events of recent days will also have generated feelings of anger, distress, or anxiety amongst us.
The University has recorded its outrage at the killing of George Floyd and has recognised in its published statement our collective responsibility to address systemic racism and to treat each other with dignity, compassion and respect.
My message is one of compassion for anyone who has been a target of racism and those that are affected by the current protests. I stand firmly behind our School’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and a zero-tolerance stance to any form of racist or discriminatory behaviour. The School of Physics & Astronomy embraces the power that diversity brings. Our Juno / Athena SWAN plan includes institutional support for a network for staff who identify as BAME, and last summer the School employed a summer intern to co-develop the School's EDI website, including links to resources on race. However, it is clear there is much more to be achieved in improving the representation and experiences of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff and students in our School.
In recent months, the senior management team of the College of Science & Engineering has been discussing these issues. All members of this team, including all Heads of Schools, have committed to take part in bespoke Race Equality training, including addressing white privilege and recruitment/promotion. We have also committed to have open conversations about race, racism and science, and the College has agreed to fund Diversity Challenge, a live event that highlights the under-representation of certain groups in academia.
Over the summer, the School is employing student interns to look at the visible representation of scientists in JCMB and to look at aspects of decolonising the physics and astronomy we teach.
Before the lockdown, the School's EDI Committee had been looking at ways to better address the issues faced by BAME staff & students, and other protected groups. If you wish to be part of our School’s ongoing efforts to address these challenges, please contribute to the work of our EDI Committee (including, if appropriate, suggesting additional resources for the School's EDI website). In the first instance, please get in touch with the Director of EDI, victoria.martin [at] ed.ac.uk (Prof Victoria Martin).
I am a member of the EDI Committee and we are here to support any member of the School community affected by racism or by the recent events in the USA and the UK. If you would like to talk to anyone in confidence, please again contact our victoria.martin [at] ed.ac.uk (Director of EDI).
Best wishes, and stay safe.
Prof Jim Dunlop